The Hunt for Red October (1990) Classic Review

Director: John McTiernan

Writers: Tom Clancy (Novel), Larry Ferguson, Donald E. Stewart

Stars: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn

RATING: 3.5 Stars

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In November 1984, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union creates a new nuclear submarine that runs silent due to a revolutionary propulsion system. The Russian submarine Captain, Marko Ramius (Sir Sean Connery), defects. His goal is taking it to the U.S. to prevent the Russians from using it to start nuclear war against the U.S. – From IMDB

My first foray into my horrendously long backlist brought me to ‘Hunt for the Red October’ and while military thrillers aren’t necessarily my favourite genre, I bought this film a while ago on a friends recommendation. Easily the best of the Jack Ryan adaptions I have seen, this is based on the book written by Tom Clancy. A book that has been criticised for being far too technical and jargon heavy. In a book, specifics and an over load of knowledge like that can really bog the story down. But in a movie, all that knowledge serves to add more realism to the world. Sean Connery even spent time aboard a real naval submarine to prepare for this role. So yeah, it definitely feels like everyone knows what they are doing.

Probably my favourite thing about this film is that absolutely none of the Russian characters actually sound in anyway Russian. Least of all Sean Connery. When you have an actor with as recognisable a voice as Connery, it is hard for them to cover up that voice. So instead, he just doesn’t try. Even when he is speaking Russian, he still sounds exactly the same. Sam Neill probably comes closest, but it’s still a long way from sounding authentic.

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Released at the beginning of the nineties, this movie is a little dated. But not so that it has become hokey or cheesy. There are definitely some terrible looking CGI torpedoes towards the end of the film, but otherwise the internals and externals of the submarines look excellent. I’m not an expert on submarines, but as a casual viewer I bought it 100%.

It’s the suspense and the tension that keep this one going. You get the barest of information at the beginning of the film, but no clue as to how we got there, or who does and doesn’t make it to the end. So with that one little clue that we get, we are trying to peeved everything together. Will he defect? Will he bomb the US? Will the Soviets catch him first? It is a great cat and mouse game and one that I enjoyed a whole lot.

So much better than I was expecting, lovers of thrillers and espionage should definitely check it out!

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